Georgina Guedes

No load-shedding for you, Johannesburg

2016-06-22 07:53

Georgina Guedes

“They must have finished building a thing,” I told my husband. “They’ve fixed the thing that wasn’t working, because now there’s, like, capacity and they say we’ll never have load-shedding again.”

It was exciting. We put away the candleholders. We stopped keeping a ready supply of cold meat in the fridge.

Then my husband pointed out, “You know it’s an election year, right? Don’t trust a single good thing that anyone says until after 3 August.”

But you know what? I didn’t listen. I believed. After all, President Zuma himself promised. I don’t know why I decided to trust him on this one, since I don’t trust him about anything else at all. But since so much hinges on our ability to generate sufficient power – industry, the economy, our ratings, the rand – I reckoned he wasn’t messing about this time.

Load shedding would be better

And, yes, there hasn’t yet been load-shedding. Nope, not a single scheduled black-out to shed the load. Instead, we’ve had loads and loads of unscheduled power failures. Why? Because when it gets cold in winter (that’s now) we don’t have sufficient capacity to meet demand.

Yes, we’re having “technical faults” and “overburdened grids from illegal connections” and “cold weather” as if these things are new on the power-provisioning landscape. And guess what, the result is power failures.

Now, I have this wild idea. If there isn’t sufficient capacity to power South Africa in midwinter – perhaps our government and power supplier should launch a plan to decrease the load somehow. Hmmmm, how would they go about doing that? I know! They could encourage the public to use less power during peak times, under the threat of being cut off.

Oh, wait, we did that. And South Africa hated it so much that “no more load shedding” has become the rallying cry of our government in an election year.

Instead of load-shedding…

So now, instead of scheduled power-outages, we have unmitigated chaos, and half the city is plunged into coldness and darkness for hours at a time with no warning. And then, the City of Joburg urges us to turn off our heavy-usage devices so that they can get everything back up and running. Surely, surely this is shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted?

It would be so much better if our government and Eskom acknowledged that there still isn’t enough frikken capacity in the grid to power our cities in midwinter – and enlisted the public’s help in doing something about it. We were so good at this, and now because we’ve been told it’s over, we’ve forgotten everything we’ve learnt.

I, for one, would be far more likely to vote for a municipal government that told me honestly that although things have improved over at Eskom, there’s still a lot of strain on the grid, so please try to keep your usage down to a minimum at peak time on the coldest days, or load shedding will have to be reintroduced.

Instead, just more lies as they try to tell us cheerily “It’s not load shedding,” as if blackouts without warning are somehow better. They’ve taken us for idiots, so guess what? This idiot is taking her vote elsewhere. 

 - Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.



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